The Holy Father urges them to act as true Christian brothers, on and off duty.
As he does every year, Pope Francis received the 36 new recruits of the Swiss Guards who will be sworn in at the end of the day on May 6, 2022. He expressed the Vatican’s pride in housing this small army with a “fascinating mission,” asking the young soldiers to be witnesses to the faith even in their free time.
In his speech at the Apostolic Palace, where he came in a wheelchair, the Bishop of Rome thanked the entire Pontifical Swiss Guard Corps for its valuable and historic daily collaboration. Over the centuries, he said, referring in particular to the Sack of Rome (1527), some guards “have not shied away from the hardest trials, even shedding their blood to defend the pope and allow him to carry out his mission in complete independence.”
“The Holy See counts on you! Vatican City is proud of your presence on its territory,” the 85-year-old Pontiff told the soldiers, known for their colorful uniforms. Stressing their “responsibility at the heart of the universal Church,” he encouraged them to live according to “the style of brothers who profess to be Christians,” even during their time off.
During the audience, where the new recruits were surrounded by their families, Pope Francis expressed his sadness at the recent accidental death of a former guard, Silvan Wolf, who served at the Vatican until the end of 2021. “A brave boy, with joy, cheerfulness,” the Argentine Pontiff recalled, inviting a time of silence for the 25-year-old who was the victim of a shooting accident during a party in Graubünden.
In the next few years, the famous army, whose numbers, at the request of Pope Francis, are to increase by 25% to 135 soldiers, will see the refurbishment of its barracks. This project is estimated to cost 50 million Swiss francs and must be approved by UNESCO.